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Selecting the best triathlon website can be confusing and overwhelming to the triathlon newbie. We review the top 5 triathlon wetsuits and top questions you should consider before buying a wetsuit.
You may think borrowing a surf wetsuit from your friend will be fine for a race, but actually having a fitting triathlon wetsuit would impact your triathlon performance strongly and make you more comfortable during the race. No matter you are the triathlon beginner, a poor or good swimmer, having a well fitted triathlon wetsuit assists your legs, chest, and shoulders’ motion substantially. It also boosts your swimming speed and provides a greater buoyancy.
Should You Wear a Wetsuit for Triathlons?
According to USAT Wetsuit guideline, if the temperature of the water is below 78 degrees, you are allowed to wear a triathlon wetsuit, even just a short distance race.
In IRONMAN® races then the rules for age-group athletes are:
- Wetsuits may be worn in water temperature up to and including 24.5°C/76.1°F.
- Wetsuits are mandatory if the water temperature is below 16°C/60.8°F
For a wetsuit to be legal to be worn in an Ironman event the following rules must also be followed:
- Your wetsuit cannot cover your face, hands, or feet.
- The thickness of any portion of the wetsuit cannot exceed 5mm.
- Neoprene or any other booties are prohibited unless the water temperature is 18.3°C/65.0°F, or colder.
- Gloves may not be worn.
As you can see choosing the right wetsuit is extremely important and needs to be matched to your race event swim conditions, your body type and training location needs.
Triathlon Wetsuit Benefits
If the race is borderline i.e., you can choose to not wear a wetsuit on the swim leg then it´s worth considering the benefits of wearing a wetsuit:
- Swimming wetsuits are made from neoprene, and it will help to preserve your body temperature and stay warm.
- Wearing it could enhance the swimming speed (up to 10%). This is mainly due to the wetsuit adds buoyancy around your hips and puts your body in a flatter and more aerodynamic body position.
- Decreases drag through the water from body position and the wetsuit providing smooth surfaces to aid water flow over the suit.
Wetsuits can be expensive but as you can see necessary for triathlon events, especially the longer events where wetsuits will be mandatory. You can purchase a wetsuit which will last you one to two seasons if you look after them well or you could hire one for the season.
Many open-water swim venues or swimming events allow you to try out a wide range of models before you purchase so you know it´s comfortable for you and suits your swimming style.
Types of Triathlon Wetsuits
There are a long-sleeve, which gives you a full-body coverage, and a sleeveless/long john style which does not cover your arms. If you have the budget, you should buy both to suit every water situation. If you don´t want to invest in both here are pros and cons to help you pick the right one.
Used for 50 – 75 degree water swimming temps.
Pros: As it has more rubber, it is more buoyant than other types. You will swim faster and easier because you float higher in the water. It reduces drag and boosts your swimming speed.
Cons: Athletes may overheat in this full suit in warmer water.
You could wear it when the water temp is over 75 degree.
Pros: In transition you can get out of the wetsuit quicker and easier than a full wetsuit. Your arms are freer than if you have neoprene sleeves and so will move closer to your pool swimming stroke and may be more effective for you.
Cons: In colder water temperatures your arms may get colder than if they were covered in neoprene.
Though the full suit reduces a real feel of water, many swimmers appreciate its speed increase function, less drag and floatation properties. Likewise, other athletes prefer the sleeveless version because it provides them greater range of motion. It may be a good idea to try both and see what works best for you and your A race water conditions and temperature.
Another consideration is fit and sizing. For example, the women’s triathlon wetsuit will have a wider hip area and less room in the crotch than the man’s suit.
Top 9 Best Triathlon Wetsuits
1. Synergy Volution Triathlon Wetsuit 3/2mm – Best Overall Wetsuit
This Ironman approved wetsuit is a good all-rounder and suitable for all levels of athlete. It comes in a wide range of sizes so what ever your size or shape I´m sure you will find a good fit. It has a 3mm core for buoyancy and 2mm lower legs and back for warmth. It´s silicon coated so you will slip through the water with ease! The zipper is a high quality rear opening type which is internal so reduces drag. I really like the neck line as it is soft and does not appear to rub.
- Silicone coated SyPrene to reduce drag in the water and help you optimize your swimming action
- Rear opening YKK anti-corrosion zipper which won´t rust and is recessed so reduces drag.
- Super soft low neck with smoothskin on both sides and because it is so soft, it feels like you hardly have anything around your neck.
- 3/2mm wetsuit for superior flexibility and buoyancy. To help you float higher, move faster and save energy.
- As an all-rounder it may be a little less durable it may need a little extra care so make sure you follow the care instructions well such as rinse off after swims, keep away from sunlight etc
2. Neosport Mens Podium or Womens Jane Triathlon 5/3mm Sleeveless – Best Budget Wetsuit
If you’re looking for a triathlon wetsuit that improves buoyancy, range of motion, and decreases drag, this sleeveless joint wetsuit is the one. You’ll also will be impressed by its comfort and its skin-like material.
In addition to comfort, the suit provides extra buoyancy for your legs. It increases your stroke efficiency, plus gives you a better position in the water. It has a thick 5mm neoprene chest panel which maintains body heat and it’s arm seal prevents water penetrating into the wetsuit.
- An impressive ultra-light neoprene material gives you a great feeling of softness and a snug fit.
- The sleeveless wetsuit allows your forearm to move flexibly. As for 5MM neoprene on the chest panel, your body position in the water is properly regulated.
- It reduces the water resistance and its 3MM back panel supports your range of motion.
- A mid-calf leg opening decreases drag in the water.
- Offers a bigger tooth zipper to easily zip up/down.
- A bonus point is given for its adjustable neck collar.
- A reasonable price which is around $100.
- Some swimmers complain about its tight neckline.
3. XTERRA Volt Full Suit 3/2mm – Best Beginner Wetsuit
This brilliant entry-level wetsuit is one of the triathletes’ favorites. It has a snug neckline which means there is no way the water could flush through it. Also, what makes it is well-known is the stretchy 3/2mm neoprene. The wetsuit’s back has 2mm neoprene and the shoulders have 1.5mm neoprene so your swim movement is fast and uninhibited. With this wetsuit, a perfect combination of mobility and buoyancy is the main selling point. It has a rear zipper with long leash that unzips from the top to the bottom so easy to remove. It´s also approved by USAT and Ironman.
- Provides maximum flexibility thanks to its neoprene construction (3:2mm).
- Its X-SLICE coat reduces water drag and help you swim faster.
- Great applause for its eco-friendly neoprene which provides great buoyancy and flexibility.
- A significant durability seam due to its double-blind stitching and three layers of glue.
- Its 4D X_FLEX suit liner helps to retain its shape and fit. So, no need to worry about its durability.
- Apart from few subjective complaints (etc. wrong size), there is no serious disappointment about it.
4. Synergy Endorphin – Best High Quality Wetsuit
This triathlon wetsuit is specifically designed for both the newbie and the advanced. In fact, it’s is endorsed by many athletes and approved by Ironman.
Indeed, the Endorphin’s 5mm core buoyancy assists with buoyancy and reduces energy consumed when swimming. Meanwhile, its YKK zipper reduces drag and helps you move faster through the water. Many swimmers also appreciate it’s ultra-soft low-neck. Likewise, it’s 3mm back panel, 2mm arms and shoulders panels guarantee your wetsuit will be maintained in good form for a year.
- Most of the swimmers appreciate a flexibility it brings as the same as the sleeveless.
- The provided panels over the torso give you higher float on the water. So, it enhances an aerodynamic and lessens drag.
- Offer a high-grade internal zipper could fight back a corrosion. Also, the zipper’s seam is hidden to give your back surface a graceful look.
- Providing an adjustable Velcro closure at the neckline. Hence, you could custom it to fit snugly conveniently.
- Your body heat is preserved thank to its soft inner liner. Also, it prevents chaffing at your elbows, knees or armpits.
- Its heels are cut to deliver a greater transition between the different legs of the race.
- A wide range of sizing (16 options) that is available for all shapes.
- Not a suitable option if you are on a distance triathlon swimming race (10k).
5. Yonda Ghost 2 – Best Sleeveless Wetsuit
Sleeveless wetsuits are great if you want your arms free to “feel the water” and your race is in warmer climates.
This has to be the most flexible wetsuit I have ever tried thanks to the Yamamoto 40 CELL fabric.
This wetsuit features a reverse style zip. Its means other athletes scan’t pull your zipper down during the swim (this has happened to me!), and the lanyard is close to your hands, so easy to access. Simply pull the lanyard up and when it reaches the top the Velcro tab opens with little effort. I loved this mechanism. It takes a bit to get used to zipping it and you may need a friend to do this for you.
The collar is a soft supple fabric and fits snugly around your neck giving a good seal and prevents water ingress to the suit.
- Flexibility is everything and this suit makes you feel like you do in the pool.
- Yamamoto 40 CELL for the ultimate in flexibility, suppleness, fit and comfort
- Handmade quality build with all key seams taped for extra strength
- Lightning fast to take off with it´s Reverse zip technology and Y-Kick smooth lining so no need for lube!
- 4.5mm front for extra buoyancy and 2.5mm legs for buoyancy and warmth. 1.5mm on the arms for flexibility
- Sleeveless is not good in colder water if you suffer from the cold so consider if sleeveless is for you.
6. ORCA S7 – Best Women’s Wetsuit
Not only is does this wetsuit look good but it performs really well in all conditions! It´s made from Yamamoto 39cell so extremely flexible which means its easy to put on and comfortable to swim in. The suit has a balance between buoyancy and flexibility plus lasts well.
The neckline is super comfortable and has yet to chafe which is a real bonus.
I found this suit easy to put on, easy to take off and really comfortable during swimming. The 5mm fabric at my hips meant my body was always flat and hydrodynamic in the water.
- High quality Yamamoto 39cell neoprene for flexibility and buoyancy
- A Smoothskin coating to reduce frictions and increase speed through the water making it very low drag.
- It can be removed very quickly be virtue of the HydroLite panels
- It has an innovative bamboo lining which give greater flexibility and warmth. It contains the heat and also reduces body odour!
- It´s made from eco-friendly materials
- The zip in a conventional YKK back zipper
- It has 5mm on the hips and legs to keep your body alignment plus warmth and 3mm at the chest to prevent body sway. It has 2mm in the shoulders and arm for range of movement.
- It´s so great and good looking and it may get taken from the changing rooms!
7. TYR Sport Hurricane Wetsuit
The triathlon wetsuit reviews aim to encourage the experienced triathlon swimmer after having made a first impression with the newbie and progressing athletes successfully. Indeed, it’s neoprene thickness gives you a nice feeling and higher floatation in the water. Also, thanks to its impressive all-around buoyancy, you could kick flexible while moving your upper body freely.
As it helps you move through the water easily, you could swim faster and quickly transit to the bike racing, for instance. Besides, you easily put it on or take it off. By this way, you should not concern about a movement around the shoulder areas from these triathlon wetsuit reviews.
- Your body temperature is preserved to be reasonably warm in the water thanks to it’ Yamamoto SCS material.
- Providing a sufficient upper-body buoyancy thanks to an added 3mm panel on the chest. Whereas, its 4mm panels at hips and legs lift your lower body floating well.
- Meanwhile, the arm panel is such a remarkable supple.
- It is noticeable lightweight to wear during swimming.
- Offering eye-catching colors for men (black/green) and women (black/cyan).
- An amazing price-to-performance ratio ($164 at the current).
- Its neck neoprene thickness (4mm) may make you sore after 1km stretch. However, it would be helpful to apply some lubricant on this place.
8. Yonda Ghost 3 SR – Best SwimRun Wetsuit
For completeness I thought I would include a SwimRun suit as this is an up-and-coming sport worldwide.
Also, you may want something with short arms and legs if you overheat in the water.
It features a front zipper as in SwimRun events you may want to take the top half down during the run sections as you will be running in your wetsuit! It also comes with a rear pocket to carry things like gels and also includes a whistle and compass as this is mandatory for a swim run event.
It has Yamamoto 1.5mm Cell 39 neoprene in the arms, shoulders, underarm and separate arms sleeves so you will not find a more flexible suit. It has 7mm thigh side panels where you won’t need to carry a pull buoy and other features such as front zip for ultra-lung expansion and comfort on the run and a high tenacity nylon backside panel for sliding down the slopes.
The removable arms allow you to adapt to the changing environment without having to cut the suit.
- A great fun wetsuit with all of the features you need for a SwimRun event.
- Front zipper ideal for un-zipping during the run legs
- Back pocket for gels, whistle, compass etc
- Buoyant side leg panels so cuts down on the need for a pull buoy during the swim
- Short arms and legs for swimming and running plus some arm sleeves to keep you warm should you need it
- You can´t use this in a triathlon as the maximum thickness is 5mm and this has some 7mm panels
How Should a Wetsuit Fit?
Wetsuit fit is dependent on your body shape and your height so very personal to you. If it too tight, your movement is restricted and you will quickly become exhausted. If it´s too loose water may get in and reduce your body heat. Swimming wetsuits should be a tight fit on dryland but will loosen off in the water to be the perfect fit. There should be a thin layer to water in between your body and the inner of the suit which will warm up and keep you warm.
The Five criteria below could help you find out if the wetsuit fits well.
- Your shoulder ‘s should move freely and comfortably.
- There are no excess material or folds around your body, small of your back, chest crotch or armpits.
- You can position the fabric into your arm pits and into your crotch comfortably by carefully moving the fabric a piece at a time. Most manufacturers will give you cloth gloves to move the fabric in to place without making holes in the fabric. You can damage it with fingernails! If you do damage the fabric you can fix it using a product called Neoprene Queen.
- It should not be restrictive around your neckline. Make sure it does not cut it or restrict your breathing standing or in a swimming prone position. Keep in mind that the collar will stretch some over time; however, if you have a bigger neck, look for one of the brands that features a lower cut collar.
- It´s not too long in the sleeve or leg. But remember you can cut the fabric but make sure you know what you are doing! Measure twice and cut once!
The key to getting a good wetsuit fit is to buy the right sizing for your body type, and not skimping on the wetsuit. Remember, only buy wetsuits made for triathlons. There are lots of very cheap wetsuits that are really intended for surfing or snorkeling. Do not buy these, they will not give you the range of motion you need for a triathlon race. It can be tempting to save a few bucks, but it is not worth it.
All manufacturers will have their own sizing charts. If you are buying online then take the time to look at their sizing charts which will give you sizes, body type and height. Unlike clothing sizes which are general the wetsuit sizing are VERY specific. If in doubt you should contact their customer support and get help to understand their sizing charts.
Here is an example of a typical wetsuit sizing chart:
As you can see there are lots of considerations and these charts are usually accompanied by wetsuit fit tips.
Wetsuit Fit Tips
If you are on the border between two sizes, consider your proportions to find a tight race fit for your build. A swimming wetsuit needs to be tight but not too tight! If you are new to wetsuits size up for a slightly more spacious comfortable fit.
If you have broad shoulders or chest, we suggest adding 10 lbs. to your weight to accommodate as this is more likely to take you to the next size up.
If you have a longer torso add two inches to your height. For a shorter torso subtract 2 inches from your height.
Women who do not find their dimensions on the women´s chart should use the men’s chart for full wetsuits only. Due to the cut of the arm holes the men´s sleeveless wetsuits are not suitable for women.
Frequently Asked Questions
Usually, the non-swimming wetsuit (surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving, etc.) are known for warmth and protection functions. By keeping the surrounding water close to your core body, the retained water is warmed up. However, you would feel heavy and slow when swimming with these kind of wetsuits.
Whereas a triathlon wetsuit has a unique and slick material called “hydrophobic” that would repel water and increase your speed through the water. This material is an exterior of your wetsuit’s neoprene. Importantly, this proprietary blend is designed and varies between manufacturers based on the athlete’s swim level.
For example, the entry-level ‘s wetsuit has around 2mm around the chest/arms and 3mm of material around the legs. Its purpose is to support the triathletes floating in a right position.
Originally produced by the American DuPont Corporation, Neoprene is a brand name of polychloroprene, which is used as a substitute for rubber. Among other things, Neoprene is entirely waterproof, which makes it an ideal material for wetsuits and other gear designed to insulate against wet and cold environments.
Less than 2mm: It is designed for the highly active athletes, especially in less thermal protection conditions like tropical environments (above 85 F). This thickness will give you more flexibility.
3mm: This is ideal for warmer weather swimming. It is designed for swimming in the water temp between 70-85F.
3mm-5mm: This range of thickness is available for year-round swimming. You can also use this in cooler water (60-70 F). It provides a sufficient combination of neoprene thickness and warmth in the water. However, it will give you less flexibility of your range of motion.
Can you get in to and out of the wetsuit easily and quickly? Zipper type and location can have a bearing on this so you need to think about what one suits your needs.
Chest zip: This is not the norm with triathlon. You may get have trouble entering and exiting with this zip. However, it’s small position and entry could minimize water flowing through your wetsuit. Besides, it provides a consistent neckline seal which also prevents the water flushing through your neck. This type of zipper is seen more with SwimRun type events.
Back zip: Back zip has been around for a long time, and you could easily get in and out of the wetsuit. It also requires less shoulder’s articulation to get to the zip to undo it. There are top release and bottom release mechanisms but more on that later.
I’m sure you’re aware how pricey the wetsuit is. But to pick the right one with the right features that correspond to the cost is hard. So, here are some considerations.
The entry-level long joint/sleeveless costs approximately $200.
The high-end suits cost $450 or more.
The high-end wetsuits provide enhanced technical features that can help you swim faster. Also, they may include an exterior coat could help you slip through the water. Hence, your body shape and forearms are well-positioned to “catch” the water. The more expensive suit may have zipper configurations that help you get out of the suit easier and quicker. They may also have several different thicknesses of neoprene depending one the part of your body for example thin neoprene on your shoulders for mobility and thicker neoprene on your hips for buoyancy.
3 Final Tips you Should Keep in Mind when Choosing a Wetsuit
Remember to consider how your wetsuit backed-up by the manufacturer. Look in to how long the warrant lasts and what kind of things it covers.
Care of your Wetsuit
If you look after your wetsuit well it will last longer. Always rinse your wetsuit in clean water after every swim. Let it air dry away from direct sunlight and when it is fully dry turn it inside out and put it on a wetsuit hanger. Store away from direct sunlight as this will degrade the fabric. Do not use Vaseline as a lubricant when swimming as this is a petroleum-based product and will harm the fabric. Use a proper swimming lube such as Body Glide as it is designed to stop chaffing and also not damage your wetsuit.
The biggest considerations are proper fit, construction, range of motion, buoyancy, warmth and warranty. You should also consider what type will meet your needs, a full wetsuit or a sleeveless one. Read the triathlon wetsuit reviews clarify whether a top-end suit or an entry-level suit meet your needs. By considering these aspects it will make your buying decision easier.
Most of all have fun swimming!